On November 26, the Santa Clara County Board of Education allowed the Bullis Charter School (BCS) to amend its enrollment procedure to favor a portion of Los Altos Hills (known as the former Bullis Purissima attendance area) over the rest of the Los Altos School District (LASD).
The Board of Education seems oblivious to a host of facts:
- BCS in effect already triage its applicants by suggesting a 3,500 dollars annual contribution per child!!!
- BCS is a public charter school not a neighborhood school (in fact, it is not even located in the geographic area it will favor)
- The geographical area BCS gives preference to is the LASD area that LEAST needs extra academic help (median house price in excess of USD 3M)
- This new enrollment procedure severely reduces opportunities for minorities.
- At the same time, LASD is about to open a newly refurbished neighborhood public school for the very same neighborhood BCS is now officially favoring.
- In order to open that neighborhood school in Los Altos Hills, LASD voted on new attendance boundaries displacing in excess of 500 children (most of them out of their own neighborhood schools).
The Santa Clara Board of Education, BCS and its backers, are showing a very poor display of responsible citizenship.
Even more immediately upsetting than this blatant social injustice, however, is that the LASD board still plans to go ahead with their boundary decision for reasons that now demand serious reexamination:
- The boundary decisions were predicated on attendance projections that are now invalid thanks to the new BCS attendance preference.
- With these new numbers, certain schools will likely be outside their capacity guidelines again within a year or two.
- In conjunction with their boundary decision, the board passed an extremely rigid policy denying grandfathering privileges to most affected students, SOLELY for the purpose of filling up the Bullis Purisimma site as a K-6 school by 2008. They decried any "gentler" means of implementing the new boundaries simply because a phased matriculation --as recommended by LASD's own superintendent-- would not fill the classrooms at BP fast enough to appease Los Altos Hills. Yet, because of BCS siphoning its attendance, that same school might not even reach the minimal District attendance guidelines.
- Students in the northern part of the district stand to be ripped abruptly from their schools in fall 2008, and possibly again in the near future, all in an attempt to fill this school in a neighborhood that will also soon be reaping most of the benefits from another district housed public school, BCS.
- There will now be TWO "neighborhood" schools serving the sparsely populated Bullis Purissima area while the 500 displaced children won't even have as much as one.
- In an effort to fill up Bullis Purissima, LASD is also offering multi-year inter district transfers (not to anybody only to residents of Los Altos Hills attached to Palo Alto Unified District). In the same time, LASD residents have to re-apply every year for an intra-district transfer even to the very same Bullis Purissima school.
It is really time for LASD, BCS, Santa Clara Board of Education and their respective cities to sort that mess once and for all.
While that happens, I urge the Los Altos School District to immediately put a moratorium on both reopening the Bullis Purissima school in K-6 configuration and implementing the new boundaries. Or at least mitigate the impact on the scores of children being displaced by moving to a phased matriculation or a more generous grandfathering policy.
Finally, while I want my 4th grade son to develop a large and diverse vocabulary, I'd prefer he starts with words like democracy, equality, and justice, rather than "plutocracy". Can someone in one of these esteemed educational organizations please help me out?
Lloyd Way, Mountain View